And spins. And spins. Who knows what kind of web he’ll weave on Broadway and whether people will be shaking their heads or dancing in the aisles? Following the fortunes of this dizzyingly expensive and extravagant musical has been a sobering affair. As writers, we all know how haphazard and mazelike creating a work of art can be. At any given moment in its development, there are pivotal choices to be made. Any one decision can lead you to down a path to a sense of wholeness and completion — or to a detour that can carry you away from the beating heart of your creation.
According to a front-page New York Times article, “Spider-Man 2.0” is a far cry from the fabulous Julie Taymor’s original “Wagnerian ambitions and high-concept artistry.” There’s all kinds of tinkering going on: a new director, new songs by Bono and Edge of U2, expanded characters and shrinking roles, and the search for a “lighter, circus-like spirit.”
Overall, the feeling is that the early version stressed spectacle at the expense of story and sacrificed the ability to touch people emotionally. As a result, while entrancing, the show didn’t really hold together — it didn’t have an emotional core. One of the ways the musical’s new creative team discovered this hollowness was through the use of surveys and focus groups.
All this makes me wonder what kind of major surgery this creative team is performing: can a beating heart be implanted at this stage of the game? If a project grows organically, then it takes on a life of its own. But if it stumbles and falters, crushed by the weight of a grand vision and overreaching expectations, can it ever find an emotional center? Well, it sounds like the new team is opting for a more light-hearted, family-oriented evening of entertainment — which is what most of us want in a musical. Beating heart or not, I hope all the work and creativity invested in this weighty project ultimately helps it soar.